Big Second Quarter Helps USA U17 Men To Win
-- Adonis Thomas’ 19 Points Paves Way To USA Victory--
June 29 , 2010 - Kaunas, Lithuania
Following Sunday’s setback to Russia’s U18 team, the USA U17 Men’s Team conducted three practices and when the U.S. squad returned to the hardwood Tuesday night for its second and final exhibition game in Kaunas, Lithuania, it displayed the focus and intensity required of a team with world championship gold medal aspirations and defeated the Lithuanian U17 team 92-79.
Adonis Thomas (Melrose H.S. / Cordova, Tenn.) dropped 9-of-14 field goal attempts and finished with a game 19 points, while Quinn Cook (DeMatha H.S. / Bowie, Md.) and Anthony Wroten, Jr. (Garfield H.S. / Seattle, Wash.) tallied 13 points each, and Michael Gilchrist (St. Patrick H.S. / Somerdale, N.J.) contributed 12 points and a game best eight rebounds.
“I liked our toughness. I thought our post players, Andre’ Drummond and Johnny O’Bryant played really well. Then you get Tony Wroten and Marquis Teague coming in off the bench, they were game difference makers tonight. We had a lot of kids step up,” said USA U17 World Championship Team and Mid-Prairie High School (Iowa) head coach Don Showalter.
“You take Brad Beal out of the game, he had four fouls, and then Marquis didn’t play a lot in the fourth quarter because of four fouls, but we still played really well without those guys. I liked our minutes off the bench; I liked our contributions from those guys.”
In addition to being high scorer in Tuesday’s game, Thomas was selected by the tournament organizers as the USA’s MVP of the two games in Lithuania. “Adonis was so consistent in both games. You can tell he has played the international game a little bit before, he kind of does things that a lot of people don’t notice especially around the rebound area and getting loose balls,” commented Showalter.
Lithuania relied on an 8-0 run midway through the opening quarter to grab the lead 19-9, then closed out the quarter with an 8-3 scoring spree to take a 29-22 lead after the first 10 minutes. Thomas helped the U.S. climb back into the game and accounted for four points and Brad Beal (Chaminade College Prep H.S. / St. Louis, Mo.) scored three as the closed the gap to 30-29. Falling back behind 36-31, the U.S. put an impressive game deciding run together. Outscoring the host Lithuanians 16-6 over the second quarter’s final 4:37, Gilchrist pumped in eight points during the surge.
“Michael Gilchrist came off the bench and really contributed energy wise and that’s the kind of player he can be. You combine him with Tony Wroten and Teague coming in off the bench and you have a pretty good group coming off there that gives us energy level,” added Showalter.
Holding on to a 53-50 lead with 6:29 left in the third stanza, the Americans went on a 19-4 scoring run to up its advantage to 72-54 when the third quarter horn sounded. Wroten hit back-to-back threes during the run while André Drummond (St. Thomas More School / Middletown, Conn.) added five points. Lithuania tried for the miraculous comeback and cut the U.S. lead to nine, 80-71 with 4:34 left in the game, but Thomas scored, Cook hit a jumper, and after Johnny O’Bryant (Eastside H.S. / Cleveland, Miss.) made two free throws, the U.S. had expanded its lead to 86-72 and sailed in from there for the 92-79 win.
The U.S., which was outrebounded by Russia, grabbed 51 rebounds to better Lithuania on the glass by 13. In addition to Gilchrist’s eight boards, O’Bryant snagged seven and Drummond cleared away six boards, while blocking four shots. The U.S. shot 50.7 percent from the field even though it was just 5-of-18 from 3-point. Lithuania was limited to 7-of-33 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc and just 36.1 percent overall from the floor.
“I had to turn up my performance; I didn’t do a good job the first game,” stated Thomas. “I had a defensive assignment against one of their point guards, their best player, and I knew what I had to do offensively to win the game. I tried to get on the glass more and just score in transition.”
The USA U17 Team travels on Wednesday to Hamburg, Germany, where it will get in its final preparations for the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men. The 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship is being held July 2-11 in Hamburg, and the USA opens preliminary play with a rematch of last year’s FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold medal contest against Argentina on July 2. The U.S. will face Tuesday’s exhibition foe Lithuania on July 3, then continue preliminary round action against China on July 5, Egypt on July 6 and close opening round play against Serbia on July 7. The top four finishing teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the July 9 medal quarterfinals, with semifinals games scheduled for July 10 and the gold and bronze medal games to be contested on July 11.
The importance of the win was not lost on USA guard Cook. “This win was very important. Lithuania is a very tough team and being on their home court definitely gives them an advantage. But we came through and not a lot of teams that will be at the (U17) world championship can say they went into a foreign country and came out successful So that is definitely going to help us in the world championship and give us an edge.”
“We improved overall as a team, we got more physical and probably shot the ball better than what we have the last two games. So I think we’re getting comfortable with what we’re doing offensively. This win is huge, it gives us confidence going to Germany and you need that confidence. I think our kids are getting to the point where they feel they can win every game now,” remarked Showalter.
Serving as assistant coaches for the 2009-10 USA Developmental National Team and 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team are Herman Harried, head coach at Lake Clifton High School (Md.), and Kevin Sutton, head coach at Montverde Academy (Fla.).